It was only when I turned 19 that I learned that there are differences between clans. I had started University and was working in a graphic design office when my colleagues asked me which clan I belonged to. I was annoyed with the question. I was not sure why they asked, but noticed their different way of treating me after they knew which clan I belonged to. Suddenly I was not Mustafa, the young graphic designer and the student; I was now Mustafa who belonged to a particular clan, and it seemed that was the reason I was either liked or disliked.


I grew up outside my country during war in the Northern part of Somalia, which is now Somaliland. I wasn’t allowed into the living room where my parents used to watch VHS tapes sent from home documenting the war. which were sold to Somalis abroad to raise money for the militias. My parents raised me with the idea that we were all equal Somalis. Clans were just names to me, sometimes used in jokes, and sometimes as an insult. I was curious to know what triggered such remarks and why there was a stigma on certain clans.


Although Somaliland was founded in 1991 with a constitution that grants equality to all citizens, the reality is different. Still today the clans that livestock still have superiority, and they receive the best jobs and educational opportunities available in our developing country. The other clans are less advantaged because of who they are as a group, although there are individuals who might manage to make a decent living for themselves.


This project explores the daily lives of people belonging to the discriminated clans, using photography to explore the depth and impact of segregation and discrimination. 

This story was made possible with the support of Magnum Foundation, AFAC, and the Prince Claus Fund.

Girls spending their time at At 'Seraha' park where youth and families from the city and other towns go to spend their afternoons on weekends in Borama
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“If passing is not by encouragement but by birth, His guts say he has been demoted”-Yahye Yebash
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Young men celebrating Eid Al-Odha in Hargeisa. 

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Photo of local cinema/video spot - a usual scene of war aftermath. It was hard to get electricity or afford buying TV sets, so people will gather and watch Bollywood films and football matches. 

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A Memorial statue for the young people who died on 20th February 1982 youth riot. The Somali government arrested many teachers and intellectuals; students gathered in protest and threw stones, many of whom were gunned down. 

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People at a wedding party taking photos of the bride and groom entrance.
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Family gifts for the Bride Family gifts for the Bride. 

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Men reading newspapers outside a telecommunication company office in down town Hargeisa, where newspapers are sold, and young men looking for available jobs come to read. Somaliland has a high unemployment rate.
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"Three are the weakest men, the one who doesn't sew for himself, the one who doesn’t make decisions for himself and the one who doesn’t make savings for himself" - Somali Proverb.
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Barbershop in Burao; Barbering is one of the popular occupations practiced by the Gabooye clans. 

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Farmer in a Farm in Arabsiyo. 

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Woman selling Uunsi in market. A type of incense made of frankincense, cardamom, sugar. Usually women who sell it in market are from the Gabooye clans. 

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Girl designing Hennah. Girl designing Hennah.  

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Blacksmithing is one of the popular occupations practiced by the Gabooye clans. 

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Electrician fixing TV receiver. Electrician fixing TV receiver. 

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When Yasin's family found out he was going to marry Samira, a girl from Gabooye clans, his older brother beat him and put him into Jail to try and thwart his decision. On release from jail, he again asked his family to accept his decision, his older brother then stripped him of his clothes and kicked him out of the house. When they heard of his marriage, Yassin's family organized a fake funeral for him. It has been four years since he seen his mother and siblings.
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Barkhad Jama Hirsi talking on a panel on “Clanism and its obstacles on Education” prepared by the Anti-clanism extinction movement. Barkhad is an ex-advisor on minorities and social issues to the President of Somaliland. He resigned at the beginning of 2015. He mentioned the reason for his resignation on different occasions. He felt his position was just complementary and that the government wasn’t doing anything in relation of empowering or either pushing the minority rights. 

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Artists performing at WADANI event “WADANI is one of the official opponent parties in Somaliland”, it the only opposition party calling for equality, and promising to give more space for minority clans. 

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Portrait of King Ahmed Iman Warsame, King of the Gabooye clans.  

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Left: A petition from a representative of the Somaliland protectorate to Secretary General of the United Nations, stating treaties between United Kingdom and some Somali Tribes; these agreements had a big impact of clans system in Somaliland today. 

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Some of the elders and clan leaders of Gabooye in Burao with the executive director of Adam Academy (an organization that works in developing and empowering minorities in Somaliland) executive director, at one of the events organized by the National Electoral Commission for the voting card registration; “We don’t have no clear representation in politics, we should elect from our own people and, we should support our leaders” as one of the elders on the panel said.
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An elder speaking at a closed meeting moderated by the Parliament members for the discussions between the government and minority clans in Somaliland about their rights in involvement in politics organized by civil society organizations.
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Children playing at Daami, one of the areas inhabited by the Gabooye clans in Hargeisa. 

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A School sign on the stairs of a primary school by community in Daami area in Hargeisa. 

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“Knowledge is Power” written on a wall in a primary school at Kililka area in Hargeisa.
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“They have been blamed while they never hurt anyone , They had their own will but never had blood on their hands, They are moving from their places while they never hurt anyone, They decided to migrate moving undetected, They might change nationality as well, They might do revenge but never swore on it” – Yahye Yebash
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A tent serving as a house in an IDP camp in Kililka Area, Hargeisa.
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“Geed walba in gubtaa wa hoos taallaa (Each Tree has enough Grass underneath to burn it down).-Somali proverb.

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Division Multiplied

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Using Format